Lapis lazuli stone was highly regarded in Mesopotamia and the Near East in general. Rulers and members of the elite had the custom of being buried with ornaments made partly or entirely of this semi-precious stone, originally from Afghanistan. The first use of this beautiful, vibrant rich blue stone dates back to the Neolithic, when it was first mined in Afghanistan and exported to the Mediterranean area and South Asia.
The ancient Romans considered jewellery to be an essential accessory, for it provided a public display of their wealth. Roman jewellery at first followed trends set by the Etruscans, using gold and semi-precious stones, but as the power and spread of the Roman Empire increased, jewellery designs became increasingly elaborate. Different cultural styles from Greece, Egypt, North Africa, and the Orient were all incorporated to reflect Rome’s prosperity as a dominant, conquering city. Archaeological finds of Roman jewellery are relatively rare, considering the magnitude of Roman civilisation and the historical and geographical span of the Empire.
To find out more about ancient jewellery, see our blog posts: Decorative Metalwork Techniques